category Board of Directors

Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting Recap


THANK YOU to the quorum of Black Star Member-Owners who gathered at the Co-op for the Fall 2018 Member-Owner Meeting last Sunday, October 21st.
After some rousing Co-op trivia, we kicked off the meeting with introductions from the current directors and with speeches from the four candidates running for the board: Beth Beutel, Roger Corrales, Graham Green, and Marcus Wilson.  They represent a fantastic mix of experience and fresh perspectives.  To summarize their stump speeches, Beth loves co-ops, Roger loves/lives worker self-management, Graham loves beer, and Marcus is lovable.  Read their candidate questionnaires on the blog (you’ll need to scroll down) and VOTE for your favorites here!
From there Beth Beutel, Black Star Co-op Board President, reviewed the priorities and accomplishments of the board so far in 2018.  She highlighted an increased focus on board training, the implementation of a more rigorous policy review process, and improved Worker Assembly (WA) solidarity.  Chris Byram, Black Star Co-op Board Staff Liaison, provided a retrospective as the most tenured member of the WA and described 2018 as a “breath of fresh air” compared to the financial struggles of early 2017.  He thanked everyone for their continued patronage and reminded them that the Co-op exists to support the Member-Owners.
Given that the Co-op finances have improved in 2018, the WA asked Member-Owners for input into where the Co-op should focus in 2019 for growth.  Everyone has a favorite idea (“Year-Round Chili!”), so second-year board member, Kyle Voosen, led us in a business strategy activity that encouraged Member-Owners to prioritize their 2019 areas of focus.  This input process was similar to the August 2018 board retreat exercise.  Of the 16 different proposed strategies for 2019, the Member-Owners selected the following three as their top priorities:
1) Expand revenue from existing Member-Owners through enhanced and better promoted membership benefits
2) Improve dining experience and better communicate brand through updated facilities
3) Build demand through official partnerships/special benefits with customer organizations
We wrapped up the Member-Owner meeting with a Q&A session that covered topics including Member-Owner outreach, the upcoming lease renewal, the improved parking situation, and yes, when chili would be back on the menu.  Thank you again to the Member-Owners who took the time to support their Co-op and join us for a beer or three in the sun last Sunday!

The Board’s Annual Retreat: Fun, Work, and Teaming!

By Beth Beutel, Board President


On Sunday August 19th, your Black Star Board of Directors took our annual pause from the monthly routine of Board work to focus on projects that require larger spans of time. This year, the Board has had a number of objectives: to ensure that every director was well trained for their role, to build alignment with the WA around our values and our processes, and to build a better team within the board itself. In case you haven’t been to a board meeting or checked out the meeting minutes, you should know that most Board meetings are primarily taken up with routine business, leaving previous little time for working towards these large goals. So our twice annual retreats in January and August are where most of the learning and teaming take place.


Throughout the year, the Team Leader Council (TLC) has asked the Board for better and more timely feedback about the direction the business is headed. As lay-people, not professional restaraunteurs or brewers, we were unsure what type of feedback would be best, and our bylaws and policies indicate clear delinations between board and staff work.. But at the TLC’s request, and after learning of a collaborative board and management planning process at the consumer co-op conference this year, I worked in collaboration with Kyle, a director on the Leadership Development Committee, and Chris Byram, our Board-Staff Liason, to develop a retreat plan that would provide timely and appropriate director input prior to the begining of the budget and planning process. And, we wanted it to be fun.


We organized the Retreat agenda to ensure we had a clear understanding of some key components of our business before we launched into planning activities. First, Greg Cumpton, Leadership Development Committee Chair, reviewed our Memeber-Investor Share Offering. Then Chris B, Andy, Jodi, Will, and Brian from the WA arrived as scheduled to see competitive reconnaissance reports from the Board. Our directors, and volunteer facilitator Kenley Maddux, presented on our homework assignment of going to one of six breweries around town to take photos, order food, note menu pricing, sample the beers, etc, and report back to the Board. We probably could have just looked at yelp reviews, but that wouldn’t have been as fun.


Then, Chris Byram educated us all about living wage. He covered everything from several available models, the basis of their calculations, cost of living estimate sources, and the specific calculations for the Austin area. The Board and WA then discussed Black Star’s history with the living wage model and the values that guided us to chose the Universal Living Wage to list in our bylaws and the values that are now compelling us to examine possibilities for change.


Dacia gave the Board a primer on how to have an excellent brainstorming session where we support each other and stoke each others creativity. Kyle then led us through a SWOT analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunites, and threats, with workers participating. The workers then left, as some agenda items had run over time and several of the workers had other commitments. Directors soldiered on to grouping the post-it notes covering the walls; we recorded them and began noting affinities – areas where one point matched with another and made a clear inclination of a plan, and assigned Kyle to continue to find more.


Later in the month, Dacia sent a survey where directors and workers were to rank “affinities” or general courses of action from 1-5; 1 meant not very interested in seeing that action taken, and 5 meant very interested that action. Results were submitted to the September meeting and discussed by the Board. We intended to chose three courses of action, but two of them had exactly even scores, and we agreed four was also a reasonable number. The board concurred that Chris Byram, as our Board-Staff Liaison should take the top four items to present to the Workers Assembly for consideration as they make their business plan, which will be submitted to the Board at our next meeting.


We hope you’ll join us at our bi-annual Members Assembly meeting on October 21st from noon-2pm at Black Star to hear a little more about what the board is working on and participate in a fun activity to give your feedback about the future direction of the co-op!


If this process sounds interesting to you, we’d like for you to know that there are open seats on the Board of Directors, and you are more than welcome to attend our next meeting on Sunday October 28th from 10am-1pm, and/or email the Leadership Development Committee at for more information about being appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board.

Board of Directors Candidate Questions

Questions for the Candidate: Beth Beutel


  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

Three years ago, I ran for the Board hoping my knowledge and experience would make me a productive director. My time on the board reminded me of a lesson I learned from gardening: to help something grow, you just have to give it enough regular attention over a long enough period of time. You just keep showing up. My experience with the Board shows that Black Star needs someone with a steady hand to keep showing up. So here I am, with three more years of experience and learning, showing up to do the work of making Black Star a better place to drink, eat and cooperate.


  1. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?

In the next year, I would like for the Board and the WA to gain clear alignment about the business’ goals and to implement practices which will ensure that alignment outlasts any particular individuals. The years ahead will contain plenty more challenges; the leadership of Black Star Co-op needs to be prepared to face them and make bold business decisions quickly.

In the next five years, I would like to see: growth in the sales of the cooperative; regular, steady growth in the number of co-op owners; and increasingly savvy, professional management and board whether through training investment or new recruits.


  1. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

For the past three years, I’ve served on the Black Star Board. For the last two, I served as Board President. I served as a member of the Leadership Development Committee, and the Outreach Committee. I also chaired the Bylaws Review Committee in 2016 and the Ends Committee in 2017. Additionally, since 2012, I’ve been employed as the Board Administrator at Wheatsville Co-op, where I’ve had a front row seat to excellence in governance using many of the same practices and procedures employed at Black Star.


  1. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

The thing that already sets us most apart is our values as a community and how we model those values in the world. An increased focus on telling the story of how our community owned brewpub is making an impact for us would help attract more like-minded people and help us keep the ones we have coming back.


  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Principle 6: Cooperation amongst Cooperatives is my favorite principle. Around here, there aren’t many cooperatives in competition with each other. But even in places where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a co-op, you can find cooperatives in the same line of business finding ways to work together to help both better serve their communities. Seeing Cooperation Amongst Coops in action shows me a world where success is not a zero-sum game, where we hold each other up, celebrate each other, learn from each other… It’s the kind of world I want to live in.



Questions for the Candidate: Roger Corrales


  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

Being a part of the Workers Assembly I want to continue to see the success of Black Star Co-op. I believe having a voice from the WA will help to give further insight into keeping Black Star Co-op a well-known brewpub in the climate of the growing craft beer industry in Austin.


  1. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?

Next year I would like to see four profitable quarters. In 5 years I would like to a totally remodeled interior and a heavily participating members assembly.


  1. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I currently work on the business team, pub team, manage the guest beer and wine programs. I have a fair understanding of how Black Star runs and I want to bring my experience to the board.


  1. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

I’d like us to be known as a brewery that does well curated events for our community.


  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

2nd Principle – Democratic Member Control: I enjoy Black Star Co-op because it’s owned by the community and run by people who have the same values



Questions for the Candidate: Graham Green


  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

When I moved to Austin 6 years ago from England, I was worried that Texas would all be big hats, Bud Light, and sports bars. I spent my first year living in Midtown Commons and Black Star played a huge role in educating me that Austin is a little different, that American beer has more to offer than what is exported, and that good pubs are not unique to the UK. I still live in the community (Brentwood neighborhood) and would like to give something back to a place that has given so much to me.


  1. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?

Austin is an increasingly competitive market for brewpubs. In the next year I would like to see Black Star thrive, without compromising what makes it special and unique. Unlike other privately-owned enterprises, Black Star prioritizes both its workers and patrons. I would like to see Black Star elevate this as a differentiator, inspiring regulars and newcomers alike to become members and growing its position in the community. Austin will undoubtedly be a different place in 5 years. Black Star must focus on maintaining its core values whilst not being afraid to adapt or expand its role where the conditions demand it.


  1. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

By profession, I am a marketing strategist. When not at the office, I can be found either drinking beer or brewing it. I would bring a combination of business skills that I practice every day at a large Austin-based technology company, with a passion for social spaces and delicious beer. My own brews cannot compete with Black Star’s, but I’m always happy to discuss/share my latest batch. I have a natural tendency to be the “organizer” within a group, encouraging involvement, driving consensus, and then evangelizing ideas and taking action.


  1. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Black Star is unique because of its people (staff, members and patrons). You come to Black Star to spend time with your friends, maybe make new friends, drink a pint or two of quality beer, and go to town on the most garlicky chips in Austin. Black Star is a place when people are valued, conversation is prioritized, and you feel like more than just a customer. By focusing on the people that make Blackstar great, it can stand out from any other BrewPub in town.


  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

4th Principle – Autonomy and Independence: Commercialism has driven great advances in the world, but big chains can at times make “greater good” decisions that come at the expense of individual or local needs. With autonomy in governance and decision making, Black Star can make tough choices to benefit the workers, the community, and what the members believe is right, rather than to support an outside agenda. The co-op model where members come together to make decisions is increasingly rare and should be protected.




Questions for the Candidate: Marcus Wilson


  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

Black Star is a cooperative, and to me that means that all of its membership pitches in when the Co-op needs us. At this point in time I feel strongly that I can continue to make contributions to the Board of Directors and to our Co-op.


  1. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?

Seeing into the future is always a bit difficult. In the next year I would love to see the staffing issues at the Co-op stabilize and our patronage rates go up. Within five years I think that we could see a real turn around. With the planned growth in the neighborhood we are in a prime retail location if we stick it out.


  1. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’ve been the Secretary and a Director on the Board for the last 3 years. I know Black Star very well.


  1. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Worker treatment is something very near and dear to my heart. The Workers Assembly already makes us different. I’d love it if we could somehow let the world know how special that is.


  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

2nd Principle – Democratic Member Control: Democratic Member Control is my favorite, because it puts the power of the organization squarely in the hands of its membership. If someone is unhappy with their co-op then it’s totally in their power to change that. It’s very empowering to me when I read that.


Cast Your Votes Here! VOTE

Black Star Co-op Elections: Call for Candidates!


Every fall Black Star Co-op Member-Owners vote for Board of Director positions. Directors review
and craft policies and principles, represent the interests of all Member-Owners, and collaborate with
the Workersʼ Assembly. Take your love of Black Star Co-op to the next level by running for the
Board. To run for the Board, you must:

1.  Be a fully invested Member-Owner
2. Attend at least one Black Star Board Meeting within the last year

The final opportunity to attend a board meeting is this Sunday, September 16th from noon-3pm.  Download the election packet for more details.

3. Attend a Candidate Orientation Session at Black Star (roughly a 30 minute conversation)

o To schedule an orientation, contact

4. Submit your Declaration of Candidacy form.

Download the Election Packet here:

2018 Election Packet_V3

It contains information about the election,
important dates, candidate questions for the website, and the Declaration of
Candidacy form. All forms must be submitted no later than September 24 th , 2018 by

Interested, but have questions before you decide to run? Ready to run, but want more information
about how to start the process? Your first step is contacting the Leadership Development
Committee through email:
*If you have not yet paid your balance, you can do so online or at the Co-op.




Explore Running for the Board: Attend July 22nd Board Meeting


It’s that time of year again! If your are considering running for the Board this fall one of the requirements is attendance at a board meeting in the last twelve months. There are only three more chances to get this requirement in before this year’s packet deadline.  It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Black Star Board as we embark on a strategic planning process around our new Ends policy, and deepen our alignment with the co-op’s Workers’ Assembly. If you’d like to join us please meet in front of the pub at 11:45am on Sunday July 22nd, and we’ll walk you over to the meeting space. If you have any questions about running for the board, please reach out to the Leadership Development Committee at

Member-Owner Extravaganza

Hi Member-Owners! We had tons of fun at the last Extravaganza in February, and are looking forward to the second quarter Extravaganza on May 8th, 2018 from 6pm- 8pm.  The Member Assembly meeting will have come and gone, so we should have plenty to talk about. Pints and appetizers will be provided. I hope to see  you there!

By Marcus Wilson, your friendly neighborhood Board member

Board Update

Member-Owner Extravaganza
Tuesday 2/13 6-8pm – Come join directors and your co-owners for a pint or two and some snacks and experience some co-operative community!

Join the Annual Report Review Committee
Want to help out your co-op? Passionate about transparency? Curious about the Board’s work?  Have we got the committee for you! Active from late February through early June, the Annual Report Review Committee will review the co-op’s 2017 Annual Report to Owners to ensure that it is understandable, accurate, and meets the requirements of the Texas Business Organization Code. The work typically requires email communication and 1-3 in person meetings at the pub. To find out more or join the committee, email the committee’s chair at

Board Meeting Date
The February Board meeting is still being scheduled and will take place late in the month. Email the board at to be notified of the meeting date personally.

By Beth Beutel

2016 Board Meeting Minutes


 Hello there! I’m Marcus the Secretary for the Board of Directors now. Prior to being on the Board I would refresh this blog after every meeting hoping to see an update and get caught up on all the cooperative business that was happening. Now that I am generating the minutes I’ve learned that actually writing down what was said is just the beginning.

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Black Star Co-op Financial Condition FAQ

1.     Why did I not know sooner about our financial condition?

The Board has communicated regularly to the membership through our annual reports, membership newsletters, and member assemblies regarding our financial condition as well as actions being taken to address the issue.  At the last annual members meeting held on October 30, 2016, we discussed our declining sales, challenges facing the co-op, our ends policies and the 2015 annual report, which stated:

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